Despite opposition from some councillors, Edmonton city council will be proceeding with a bus network redesign that will cut bus service from 187 routes to 117.
Council voted 8-5 to proceed with the redesign on Tuesday, with councillors Mike Nickel, Jon Dziadyk, Sarah Hamilton, Tony Caterina and Mohinder Banga opposed.
The biggest objection seemed to be that the plan would leave some residents behind.
“I will not be supporting the motions put in front of me,” said Nickel, “and I continue to express my deep concern about leaving people behind.”
He also argued that he thought a phased rollout would be better than changing the entire bus system at once.
“I would argue very strongly with this council that police and like fire, transit is an essential service and that tinkering with something so foundational … it gives me great concern,” he said.
Councillor Michael Walters, who supported the redesign, wasn’t sure how a phased rollout would be possible “with such a significant shift in philosophy.”
Council also directed the city administration to report back on options for a 24-month pilot program for on-demand service in areas that will be affected by the lost routes.
Council will hear report on Montreal’s financial assistance program for businesses affected by major construction projects
After a lot of debate, council voted 8-4 (Councillor Bev Esslinger was no longer part of the meeting at this point) to support a motion from Councillor Andrew Knack that asked staff to report back on Montreal’s financial assistance policy dealing with the financial impacts of construction projects on small businesses.
Knack explained that he introduced a motion to create a similar policy about a year and a half ago, but it was unsuccessful. The day after, the City of Montreal adopted its policy.
Many of the councillors had concerns about implementing such a policy—specifically how big of an expense the city would wind up incurring—but ultimately the majority of council decided to support the motion and find out more about Montreal’s policy.
Council congratulates The Amazing Race Canada winners
Edmonton two-spirit couple Anthony Johnson and James Makokis won season seven of The Amazing Race Canada, and Tuesday they were in council chambers where they were recognized for their win, but also for their work in the community.
Councillor Aaron Paquette welcomed and congratulated them.
“Throughout the competition, you demonstrated such character and heart, and you quickly endeared yourselves to the nation,” he said. “With your motto of perseverance, of never giving up, you encapsulated so well the expression of the Cree word ahkamêyimok. You also took this opportunity to earnestly and compassionately highlight some very significant issues, from donning handmade red skirts and bandanas to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, to wearing shirts emblazoned with ‘Water is Life’ to educate on the cultural and ceremonial importance of water. You’ve helped to elevate important issues and spark much-needed conversation.”